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Bank account customers struggle to switch, EU study shows

Published 27 February 2012 by

More than eight out of ten mystery shoppers were unable to successfully switch their bank account provider, the results of an EU commission study show.

The exercise involved mystery shoppers trying to open a bank account with a new bank and switch a standing order. Just 19% of shoppers were able to do this successfully, with many banks offering little help with the switching process.

71% of banks didn't help at all with the switching process, while 7% had either failed to open a new account or switch a standing order within 14 working days. 14% of shoppers said they received no information about switching.

EU internal market commissioner Michel Barnier said: "The results of the study published today explain why consumers change their banks so rarely. If consumers are not able to easily switch bank accounts, they cannot take advantage of better and cheaper banking services on offer elsewhere."

An expert at thinkmoney said: "Research has shown that very few people ever switch bank account, despite the different features different accounts can offer. It doesn't have to be as difficult as some people think - not all banks offer an actual switching service, but most should still be able to help you through the process if you ask.

"We advise anyone who hasn't switched bank account in recent years to take a look at the various accounts on offer and consider which would work best for them."

People who find budgeting difficult could benefit from the thinkmoney Personal Account, which takes care of budgeting on the account holder's behalf. It's also open to people who have had problems being accepted for a bank account, because it doesn't require a credit check. You can find out more about the thinkmoney Personal Account here.